Residents of Anaheim have clashed yet again with police following the weekend shootings that killed two men. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the center tossing rocks and bottles at police and ignoring warnings to disperse.
Police stepped up their presence on the streets of Anaheim – home of Disneyland – outside City Hall, forming skirmish lines and firing pepper balls into the swelling crowds.
Residents protested against police brutality and decried the murder of 25-year-old Manuel Diaz, who was unarmed when police shot him over the weekend.
Officers arrested at least 24 people in clashes, reports the Associated Press. The local petrol station had to be shut down when protesters were spotted filling cans with gas. A group of demonstrators also hurled chairs through the windows of a local Starbucks.
Chief of Anaheim police John Welter said that his officers had exercised “great restraint” amid protester violence.
"I respect the people's right to demonstrate, but I wish that they weren't demonstrating in a violent manner," Welter said.
Riots and protests have gripped the town for the past four days after the deaths of Manuel Diaz on Saturday and Joel Acevedo on Sunday at the hands of police officers.
Police were in pursuit of Manuel Diaz along with two other men that they suspected were gang members on Saturday. Officers then confronted Diaz in front of an apartment block where he was shot. He later died of his wounds in hospital.
Anaheim’s police have not yet cited a reason as to why they opened fire on Diaz.
The victim’s family filed a lawsuit for $50 million on Tuesday against the city of Anaheim and its police department, claiming that Diaz was shot while fleeing from police.
"The reason for the shooting is still under investigation by the district attorney and we have no influence, no control or input into that investigation, so we just merely provide scene protection making sure that any evidence or any other information or detail is not disrupted in the crime scene," Welter said.
The shooting sparked an immediate response from residents who stormed the streets of Anaheim in protest of the killing. Police reacted firing beanbag rounds into crowds that included women and children. Officers were also caught on tape releasing a police dog on protesters which took down one man and bit his arm.
Anaheim police killed the second man, Joel Acevedo on Sunday night after he allegedly opened fire on officers.
City officials voted on Tuesday to ask the US attorney’s office to come and assist in the investigations of the weekend’s shootings.